3 Secrets to Finding Joy in Housework
You love the opportunity to help others and minister with your church or in your community. You enjoy time with your family and even some time just by yourself. Who wouldn’t find joy in blessing others, being with those you love, or getting some quiet time to yourself? But housework? That’s a different story!
There are few people in the world who just love to scrub toilets and wash windows. Sure, you love having the house clean - I know I do - but the process of cleaning isn’t all that enjoyable. It’s a built-in routine at best and a necessary evil at worst. How can we find joy in cleaning?
You can find joy in housework. It’s possible, even if you don’t enjoy it. Those two should be related because they sound alike, right? The dictionary will agree with you.
- enjoy: take delight or pleasure in
- joy: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness
But as believers we have come across this term before, and we know that joy and happiness are not always interchangeable. For example, James 1:2 encourages us to consider our trials a joy in light of the fact that they lead us to more a mature faith in Christ. We may not be happy or feeling pleasure and delight, but we know that ultimately God is working in us. That’s what brings us joy.
You may find no pleasure in household chores but still find joy. To be honest, when I focus on the 5 truths, I am about to lay out, I do find housework more enjoyable. My heart is lifted and I may even carry a smile on my face. It certainly beats a grumpy attitude that lashes out at everyone in close proximity!
Let’s examine Scripture to focus our eyes on Jesus.
1. Pray Without Ceasing
Pray continually. - 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Nothing fixes grumpiness like prayer. Talking to God forces us to focus our hearts on Him. We can pray in thanksgiving, pray for a content heart and diligent hands, and pray to discern priorities when we get overwhelmed.
Praying is my favorite secret key to finding joy in housework. As I clean a room, I pray for that space and the people who use it. This works especially well for cleaning floors in multiple rooms. It becomes a prayer walk in my home.
“God, I thank you as I mop this hallway. May people always feel welcome when they enter. May this door always be open to those who are hurting. May this home become a refuge for our family and friends.”
“Lord, as I wipe this table, I thank you for always providing food for our family. I thank you for the extras we get to share with others. Make this table a meeting place for our family. Allow us to enjoy family dinners with uplifting conversations. Teach our children about thankfulness as they learn to pray at the dinner table. Transform our hearts to always be open to guests, and may they be nourished in body and soul as they eat with us.”
Wow! All of a sudden a mundane task has become an opportunity to communicate my deepest gratitude and longings to my Savior. Pray sincerely and without ceasing. It’s a command straight from the Bible. But it says more…
2. In Everything, Give Thanks
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
We are to rejoice, pray, and give thanks regardless of our circumstances. As you are cleaning, you may think: “Why in the world would I be thankful for chores?” Let’s come up with a list. While you are cleaning toilets, you may be thankful for…
- indoor plumbing
- your physical ability to get on your knees and clean
- potty-trained kids
- God is growing your patience and servanthood
While you may not enjoy this particular task - I don’t - you can be thankful for what God has given you and how this object serves your family. So rejoice!
Look at the verses again. It says, "This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." It is God’s desire for you to rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances. He wants you to put the grumpy attitude aside and be thankful for the gifts He has given you. You have a task, and you can complete it with thanksgiving.
You may reluctantly agree to be thankful for having a toilet. I mean, it’s a necessity, right? Obviously, you are thankful you are not living during the outhouse days. But what if you struggle to be thankful for your home while you are cleaning it. What if all you see is shortcomings? The apostle Paul has a secret for you.
3. The Secret of Being Content
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. - Philippians 4:10-13
Paul knew what it was like to have little. He had also experienced having plenty, so poverty must have struck him as a stark contrast. He tells us he was hungry - not the kind of hungry caused by lack of planning a snack, but the kind of hungry caused by a lack of available food. I am guessing few of us have experienced that.
Paul tells us he learned a secret - the secret to being content in all circumstances. Here it is: “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”
You may find your house small or not quite satisfying. Cleaning your home may just be a reminder of what you don’t like about it, or maybe of how much work it is. Apply Paul’s secret key to contentment in everything! You can do all things through Christ because He gives you strength.
So, take a moment to pause and ask God for strength. Take a deep breath and feel Him empowering you to be content with what He has given you. Give thanks in all circumstances! Be content in every situation! You may not be able to do it on your own, but you can do it through Christ, who gives you strength.
4. Do All Things unto Christ
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. - Colossians 3:23-24
That goes for housework, too, ladies. You are serving your Lord Jesus Christ by folding laundry. It’s part of your role in your family - if that’s how your household has decided to divide tasks - and you are fulfilling your responsibility to provide clean and wrinkle-free clothes for everyone. You are serving your family, and by doing so, you are serving Christ Himself.
Remember, Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that when we serve the poor and needy, we essentially serve Him. And when we don’t serve the poor and needy, we are deciding not to serve Him. You may not put your family into the “poor and needy” category but the principle clearly applies as we see in our Colossians verse. When you serve your family by doing housework, you are directly serving Jesus Himself.
That should be a motivator, right? I mean, if Jesus was about to walk into your house, you’d want to make sure the floors were clean. “Where is my mop? I’ll get right on that.” Oh wait… God is present in your house always, and acknowledges your cleaning efforts as worship to Him.
If you are a type A personality, you may already be itching to get off this post and get cleaning. I mean, it’s your service unto the Lord, so you better get it right. Is that what you are thinking? A quick sweep won’t do; better start scrubbing the grout with a tool brush.
Let’s take courage in the story of Mary and Martha.
5. Relationships Over Cleanliness
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:38-42
Jesus teaches us a lesson on priorities. Relationships and ministry are more important than a clean home.
Are you a Mary? Housework is your least favorite thing to do, because you would rather spend your time with people? Take heart, your priorities are in the right place.
The Marthas of you are giving me an evil look, saying, “Somebody has to do the work.” Well, I count myself among you, lovers of all things clean and tidy. You are correct! The work needs to be done, but… Does it have to be done that meticulously? Does it have to be done that often? Can you leave a few crumbs on the floor, the shelves dusty, and some fingerprints on the sliding door? If the trade-off is coffee with a friend or reading a book with your child, those are infinitely more valuable.
Okay, be honest! Did I distract you from cleaning? Is that what you were supposed to be doing instead of roaming the Internet? Well, I hope I have given you the motivation you need to get back to it - and to do so with a heart focused on God.
Bonus tip: Community makes everything more fun. Sure, it may not be feasible for you to do all your housework with a friend. But we can do a little community building right here. Feel free to link to your favorite “how to keep you home clean and organized” type of article in the comments below. (Bloggers are welcome to link their own articles.)
Leave your tips & tricks, pick up some new ones, and then go clean!